January 6, 2015

Oromo: Thousands of Nationals Detained for Protesting Against Government Decisions

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa released an appeal that describes the crackdown on the Oromo community, which has been particularly significant in the last 10 months, after the protests, held in March and April 2014, against the annexation of some Oromo towns to the territory of Addis Ababa. The organization highlighted in particular, the situation of a group of 26 prisoners, who have been illegally detained, beaten, tortured and deprived of their few belongings.

Photo courtesy of Rod Waddington@flickr

Below is the Appeal from the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, also available in .pdf format:

Since the March-April 2014 crackdowns against the peaceful Oromo protesters who have protested against the Ethiopian Federal Government’s plan of annexation of 36 small Oromia towns to the capital city of Addis Ababa under the pretext of the “Addis Ababa Integrated Plan”, thousands of Oromo nationals from all walks of life from all corners of Oromia regional state including Wollo Oromo’s in Amhara regional state have been detained or imprisoned. Some have disappeared and many have been murdered by a special commando group called “the Agiazi force”. The “The Agiazi” force is still chasing down and arresting Oromo nationals who participated in the March-April, 2014 peaceful protests. Fearing the persecution of the Ethiopian government, hundreds of students did not return to the universities, colleges and high schools; most of them have left for the neighboring states of Somaliland and Puntiland of Somalia where they remain at high risk for their safety. Wollo Oromos who are living in Ahmara regional state of Oromia special Zone are also among the victims of the EPRDF government. Hundreds of Wollo Oromos have been detained because of their connection with the peaceful protests of March-April 2014.  The EPRDF government has detained many Oromo nationals in Wollo Oromia special Zone under the pretext of being members or supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), as prisoners’ voices from Dessie/Wollo prison have revealed.

From among the many Oromos who were picked from different districts and places from Wollo Oromia special Zone in Amhara regional state in April 2014, the HRLHA reporter in the area has received a document which shows that 26 Oromo prisoners pleaded to the South Wollo High Court that they were illegally  detained first in Kamise  town military  camp for 36 days, Kombolcha  town Police Station for 27 Days, and Dessie city higher 5 Police Station for 10 days- places where they were severely tortured and then transferred to Dessie Prison in July 2014.  According to the document, they were picked up   from three different districts and different places by federal police and severely beaten and tortured at different military camps and police stations and their belongings including cash and mobile telephones were taken by their torturers. In their appeal letter to the South Wollo high court they demanded

1.            Justice and release from the prison because they had been arrested without court warrant and didn’t appear in front of the court for more than eight months- which violates the Ethiopian constitution.

2.            The return of their belongings, including 1000 – 5000 Eth Birr and their mobile phones. […]

 

The Ethiopian Government for the past 23 years has continually breached:

1.            the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia Articles 14-19  by arresting citizens without court warrant, used torture and inhumane degrading treatments and deprived citizens of their livelihoods and generally discriminated against Oromo nationals

2.              international  treaties  it has signed and ratified

2.1.         CAT –Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatments or Punishment (1994)

2.2.         CCPR - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1991)

2.3.         CESCR  - International Covenants on Economic, Social  and Cultural Rights (1991) and

2.4.         CERD – International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1976)

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) strongly condemns the irresponsible actions of the Ethiopian Government and its agents for their inhumane treatments of citizens. The government should be held accountable for failing its duty and responsibility to protect and promote human rights in its territory.

   The HRLHA calls upon regional and international donor States and Organizations to take measurable steps against the Ethiopian TPLF/EPRDF government for its persistent brutal, dictatorial, and suppressive actions against innocent and unarmed civilians.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Ethiopian Government and its concerned officials as swiftly as possible, in English, Amharic, or your own language expressing:

- for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners illegally detained and pay compensation 

-  urging the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that these detainees would be treated in accordance with the regional and international standards on the treatment of prisoners,

 

For further information on the detainees and on where to address the concerns, please see the attached file.